VA Gov. Ralph Northam Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Pro-Gun Rights 'Lobby Day' Rally

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On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam declared an official State of Emergency ahead of the “Lobby Day” protest “due to potential civil unrest at the Virginia State Capitol.”


Northam states in Executive Order #49 (EO) that the state of emergency will be effective from 5:00 p.m., Friday, January 17, until 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 21, 2020. The governor cites the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA protests which resulted in one death and multiple injuries as the reason for his EO. The EO states:

Credible intelligence gathered by Virginia’s law enforcement agencies indicates that tens of thousands of advocates plan to converge on Capitol Square for events culminating on January 20, 2020. Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection. Assuring that Virginia’s Capitol Square and surrounding public areas are sheltered safe places for those who come to participate in the democratic process, as well as those who work on or near Capitol Square, is my greatest priority.

Northam told reporters on Wednesday that “No weapons will be allowed on Capitol grounds. Everything from sticks and bats to chains and projectiles…The list also includes firearms.”

According to Vice’s Tess Owen, Northam said that “law enforcement had intercepted threats and “extremist rhetoric” similar to what was observed prior to the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.” Owen also wrote that, “Some have even described the event as a “boogaloo” — a term that the far right uses to describe a second civil war.” I guess we can tell what side of the fence she sits on.


Lobby Day, organized by pro-Second Amendment group Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), is an annual event held on the third Monday in January.

At his press conference, Northam said, “I believe them (VCDL) when they say this is a peaceful event — that’s what democracy is. Unfortunately, they have unleashed something much larger, something they may not be able to control.”

Northam added, “It makes no sense to ban every other weapon but allow firearms when intelligence shows that armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol.” He also announced he had “established a unified command between state police, Capitol police, the Richmond police department, and the city’s first responder teams.”

Contrary to Northam’s hyperbole and Owen’s spin, VCDL’s President Philip Van Cleave has published a “frequently asked questions” bulletin about the rally which can be viewed here, that presents this annual event in a very different way.

Rather than Northam’s intelligence showing that armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol, Van Cleave writes that:

Various militia groups from Virginia and nearby states have graciously volunteered to provide security. With a large Capitol, Richmond, and State police presence, not to mention enough citizens armed with handguns to take over a modern mid-sized country, we have the security base covered nicely. That said, we welcome our militia brothers and sisters to be part of making the day a success! Some militia groups are looking to take canned food donations during Lobby Day and deliver them to a Richmond Food Bank.


And instead of Northam “establishing a unified command between state police, Capitol police, the Richmond police department,” Van Cleave says:

VCDL has a great relationship with the Capitol Police, the Richmond Police, the Virginia State Police, and most other law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth. We welcome their presence and are glad they are there to keep everything peaceful, while we work on the job at hand.

And Van Cleave emphasizes that “Lobby Day is a peaceful event about gun rights and NOTHING ELSE.”

Lobby Day is about, well, lobbying – sending a message to the General Assembly and to the Governor, Attorney General, and the Lt. Governor.  That message is simple: no more gun control that in any way, shape, or form negatively affects law-abiding gun owners. Bills that go after criminals or bills that are beneficial to gun owners are fine.”

We are NOT there to have arguments with the other side. They lobby, we lobby, and never the two shall meet. Just ignore them.

And we are not there to push any other agenda. Our total focus is on protecting our right to keep and bear arms. Period. This is not about flags, statues, history, etc. Just guns.

If you somehow find yourself being harassed by the other side, don’t engage them. They could well be baiting you and recording what you do for propaganda purposes. If necessary, go find a police officer and let them take care of the person causing the disturbance. Otherwise, just ignore them and go about your business.


He even includes information about what types of firearms are and are not allowed at the event.

If you are asking how you can help with VCDL’s mission, carrying long guns at Lobby Day is not helpful – it is a distraction. VCDL’s important messages inevitably get lost as the press rushes to get pictures of anyone carrying an AR or AK. The stories then become about the rifle, not VCDL’s agenda. You can set your watch by it. Long guns are not easy to carry in a crowd, either. VCDL needs its voice heard loud and clear in order to able to stop the onslaught of gun-control bills.

Laws you need to know for carry in Richmond:

You can’t have a magazine in a centerfire rifle or pistol that holds more than 20 rounds unless you have a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP). You must also have a CHP if the centerfire rifle or pistol has a threaded barrel or a folding stock. Click here to see the code section, which also covers similar restrictions on shotguns: 18.2-287.4

Open carry without a CHP is legal in Virginia, but watch the restrictions in the previous paragraph.

Van Cleave wrote his statement before Northam issued EO #49, so it’s unknown if he will ban activists from bringing VCDL approved guns to the rally or not.

This annual event has not turned violent in the past. But never before has the threat to the Second Amendment been so great. And Virginia is the first state to take such draconian measures against gun ownership. All eyes will be on Richmond, VA on Monday.



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